January 18, 2020, Yellow Jambhala Group Cultivation Session and the propitiation of the new Year Gua

January 18, 2020, Yellow Jambhala Group Cultivation Session and the propitiation of the new Year Guardian
[TBS News]

On the afternoon of January 18, 2020, the temple held a ceremony to thank the incumbent Year Guardian (Tai Sui in Chinese) for watching over everyone during the year. This symbolic event matched in solemnity with another ceremony held at night – that of propitiating the new lunar year’s Tai Sui, Star Deity Lu Chao. The Yellow Jambhala group cultivation session also took place.

During the dedication of merits, Grandmaster beseeched the incoming Tai Sui to look after all True Buddha disciples – regardless of the extent of clashes* with Tai Sui. Grandmaster hoped that all three calamities and eight disasters would be eliminated and that all hindrances, including karmic hindrances and illnesses, would be removed.

[*Note: Each year, people born under certain Zodiac signs are more prone to incur the wrath of Tai Sui, hence it is common practice by the Chinese to hold a ceremony to propitiate the incoming Tai Sui.]

After the solemn conclusion of the sessions, Grandmaster proceeded with his dharma discourse. Someone had asked him, why do we need to visualize the inflammation of Jambhala’s big toe everytime we practice the dharma of Yellow Jambhala? After all this while, why has Yellow Jambhala's pain not subsided? Is Yellow Jambhala normally pain-free except when we practice the dharma?

According to Grandmaster, the sadhana is traditionally done this way; however, the issue of pain can be explained with a real-life example.

Some time back, Grandmaster went to see a doctor over a skin problem. The doctor told him that the skin problem was curable, but it could relapse. Grandmaster then asked, if that was the case, then why cure it in the first place? The doctor then asked him if he had flu before. Yes. Did he recover from the flu? Yes. Did the flu come back? Yes.

The same principles apply. Will Yellow Jambhala’s pain subside? Yes. When we cultivate the dharma, we alleviate the pain on Yellow Jambhala’s big toe. Will the pain come back again? Sure, it will.

Everyone gets the flu bug once in a while – it is impossible not to get one in one’s lifetime. Is anyone able to count how many instances of flu that one has in one’s lifetime? The same concept can be applied to Yellow Jambhala’s foot pain.

Next Grandmaster discoursed on the Lamdre.

According to Lamdre, “With prapañca**, an increase in unwholesomeness takes place." This pertains to hindrances [to spiritual cultivation]. Improper thoughts persist; there is prapañca.

[**Note: Prapañca means concept proliferation, during which multiple ideas, concepts and definitions arise, only to obscure the original intended meaning, leading to errors and therefore, diversion from moksha.]

Grandmaster explained, this saha world is full of "games". For example, a child may be so obsessed with games that he or she plays them immediately after school and during meal times. Eventually he or she may refuse to go to school and develop depression. Similarly, we are obsessed with our own "games" in life.

Such games in life relate to improper thoughts. When one becomes so obsessed with everything in this world, one’s thoughts can become improper (prapañca). Hindrances [to spiritual cultivation] will increase. One can potentially develop depression, delusion and eventually mental illness.

Grandmaster explained what "increase in unwholesomeness" means. If one finds no increase in right thoughts in oneself, but instead enters the world of illusion, then one would have increased improper thoughts.

One should chat less and chant more mantras and Buddhas’ names. One should greet others and bade goodbye to others by uttering, “Amituofo” (Chinese for Amitabha’s name).

When one experiences bliss as a result of spiritual cultivation, but is reluctant to let go of the bliss, a hindrance [to spiritual cultivation] arises. Other hindrances could be: when one is reluctant to leave the embrace of the clear-light brilliance upon seeing it; when one cannot forget the Personal Deity upon seeing it and hopes to see it again and again.

All these kinds of “grasping” create hindrances. One must persevere on the path of spiritual cultivation to eventually merge with the universe. According to the Sutra of Entering Samadhi, the highest realm [of spiritual cultivation] would be to achieve the singular brilliance of clear-light. In Vajrayana, when one is in the 13th “ground” of Vairocana (Dharma-kāya) realm, the clear-light brilliance will permeate all over.

In the old days, when Grandmaster was in the Pure Land sect, he only knew how to chant Buddhas’ names without any visualization. Today, with full understanding of Vajrayana, Grandmaster emphasized the importance of increasing [the level of] visualization. All of us have Buddha-nature within us, and therefore we have affinity with Buddha. Spiritual cultivation helps to remove the bad habits in us, that is, to remove the dirt that covers the Buddha-nature. This means there is cleansing of the mind, body and speech, and eventually, Buddha-nature will reveal itself.

In Vajrayana, we learn to do many things such as setting boundary protection, giving food and performing offerings, the latter of which creates great blessings. If we incorporate spiritual cultivation into whatever we do as we go about doing our daily chores, we are actually practicing the dharma of Vajrayana. It is easy to start this way.

In Vajrayana, performing offerings can mean offering one’s entire body, including “Small Fragrance” (urine) and “Big Fragrance” (poop). If one has enough confidence and faith, one can offer these to all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Vajra Protectors, Dakinis, and Devas.

As one practices spiritual cultivation in Vajrayana, one will greatly improve one’s knowledge and wisdom by leaps and bounds. The amount of brilliance that one emanates will also increase tremendously. When one is full of brilliance that parallels that of a Buddha, one merges with the Buddha. In the future, one will emanate pure brilliance that permeates all over. This is very important.

After the speech, Grandmaster bestowed the refuge-taking initiation on the new disciples. He also blessed the compassionate water and performed the consecration ritual on the Buddha statues and images. Before leaving the temple, Grandmaster touched the crown of every disciple to help them in the fulfillment of their wishes.

As Spring draws near, many disciples will be arriving at the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple to celebrate the lunar New Year with Grandmaster. There will be a series of activities lined up in Spring. We welcome everyone’s participation in these events:

Eve of Lunar New Year: Great Offering to the Buddha, First Incense Stick to Herald the New Year
Date︰January 24, 2020 (Friday)
Time: 10.30pm

Lunar New Year: Great Offering to the Buddha
Date︰January 25, 2020 (Saturday)
Time: 11am

Spring Homa Ceremony: Avalokitesvara Calamity Eradication, Blessing, and Deliverance Ceremony (Rainbow Temple)
Date︰February 1, 2020 (Saturday)
Time: 2pm

Grandmaster will paint a gigantic painting LIVE!
February 5, 2020 (Wednesday)
Time: 8pm

Lantern Festival: the 15th Day of the first lunar month
Date︰February 7, 2020 (Friday)
Time: After dinner

Seattle Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple wishes every True Buddha disciple a happy Rat year! May this year be full of blessings and may everyone succeed in spiritual cultivation.

「一生一咒」800萬遍上師心咒活動,從今年師尊的佛誕日正式啟動,請參加者到TBSN官網以下鏈接登記資料: 每持滿十萬遍上師心咒者,宗委會將把名單呈給師尊加持。每持滿一百萬遍者,將列名護摩法會功德主,資料請師尊主壇護摩法會時下護摩爐。